Best NFL Combine Performances of All Time

The NFL Combine returns in 2022 after taking a year off -- in celebration, let's look at the best NFL Combine performances of all time.

The NFL Combine is once again upon us. A time when we watch NFL Draft prospects run as fast as they can, jump as far and high as possible, and push out bench-press reps like there’s no tomorrow.

The NFL Combine is a unique event in the world of football, and it can go a long way in helping a prospect’s draft stock. Today, we take a look at the best NFL Combine performances of all time.

Best NFL Combine Performances of All Time

The NFL Combine swapped equipment in 2006, and the 40-yard dash wasn’t electronically timed until 1999, so as a result, some performances before those years are looked at in a different light.

Nevertheless, a pair of players produced insane numbers in the 1980s. Even factoring in some modern changes, they still would have had incredible NFL Combine performances.

OT Trent Williams | 2010

To make this list, you have to look at overall performance. For most players, that’s easy. Others, not so much.

When it comes to linemen, good performers typically do more than one thing well. Knowing that, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Trent Williams on this list. He’s considered one of the best linemen in the NFL due to his nasty blocking.

That dominance started at the NFL Combine.

At 6’4″, 315 pounds, Williams ran a 4.81 40-yard dash, which isn’t common for players over 300 pounds. He produced a 4.63 short shuttle, 34.5-inch vertical, and a 9’5″ broad jump. An NFL Combine performance can have a big effect on a player’s draft stock, and Williams used his numbers to go from a fringe first-round pick to a top-five selection.

DT Dontari Poe | 2012

Linemen are the athletes you need to watch closely. None of them have any business doing some of the things they do athletically, especially when they weigh over 300 pounds. Dontari Poe took that to a whole different level in 2012.

People don’t understand the power you need to run a 40-yard dash under five seconds at 346 pounds. We get so accustomed to seeing receivers and defensive backs do it that a 4.89 time doesn’t move the meter. However, that’s incredible for a big man.

Poe was running 16.7 miles per hour during that dash, making him the first man over 340 pounds to run under 4.90.

While he was at it, he also put up 44 reps on the bench press. A good score for a defensive tackle is 36, and the NFL Combine record is 49. There’s nothing common about what Poe did back in 2012, and he doesn’t get enough credit for that performance.

DE Bruce Irvin | 2012

Bruce Irvin entered the Combine as a late-second or early-third-round pick. Yet, one of the best NFL Combine performances of all time launched him to 15th overall.

The defensive end from West Virginia turned heads with his speed, and it translated well for his NFL career. Irvin’s 4.41 40-yard dash alone would have made him a first-round pick at several other positions. However, he played on the defensive line and weighed almost 50 pounds heavier than most of the athletes who ran around the same time as him.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey | 2009

The Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders never saw a blazing-fast receiver they didn’t love. Darrius Heyward-Bey is up there for the best NFL Combine performance in terms of baiting a team into taking him in the top 10. Can you blame Al Davis, though?

MORE: NFL Combine Records — 40 Times, Bench Press, Vertical Jump, and More

At the time, Heyward-Bey ran a 4.25 40-yard dash, the second-fastest ever at that time, behind former ECU and Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson. At his peak, Heyward-Bey was running 23.4 mph. He also posted a 38.5-inch vertical, 10’6″ broad jump, and 4.18-second short shuttle.

WR Julio Jones | 2011

Julio Jones’ stock might have been the least affected by any of these NFL Combine performances. If anything, it confirmed what we all already knew.

Nearly everyone had the Alabama WR listed as a top-10 pick, and the Combine proved why. A 4.34 40-yard dash, 4.25 short shuttle, 38.5-inch vertical, and 11.3″ broad jump, reminded teams they needed to take Jones as soon as possible. Only Atlanta got the memo, but they’re happy five other teams passed him up.

TE Vernon Davis | 2006

At 245 pounds, Vernon Davis had no business running a 4.38 40-yard dash (tied for ninth-fastest that year), 4.17 short shuttle, 42 bench-press reps (third), 42-inch vertical (second), and 10’8″ broad jump (16th). Put all those numbers together, and it’s just simply unfair for someone to be that good at that many things.

RB Bo Jackson | 1982

The legend of Bo Jackson grows every year, but arguably one of the most talked-about stories is his 40-yard dash time. Jackson’s 4.12-second time is said to be the fastest ever recorded. While the technology might not support that, nor do we know how legitimate it was, seeing Bo play on the field makes that time reasonable (which is terrifying).

CB Deion Sanders | 1989

Why is Deion Sanders on this list? A hand-timed 4.2 40-yard dash still sticks to his name.

That was the only drill he participated in at the Combine. Sanders knew how to make a statement, so he proved that he could fly on the field and ran straight to a limousine waiting for him right after. It was one of the best NFL Combine performances ever, mostly based on Sanders’ swagger and confidence.

LB Shaquem Griffin | 2018

If you didn’t follow the UCF Knights’ story in 2017 (most people didn’t until late in the season), you didn’t know anything about Shaquem Griffin. One of the best players in the country helped lead UCF to a “national championship” and then stunned everyone at the NFL Combine.

Griffin’s story of only having one hand was the headline, but his results gave us plenty to talk about as well. At 227 pounds, Griffin ran a 4.38 40-yard dash (fastest speed for a linebacker in the Combine’s history) and put up 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic attached to his arm.

RB Saquon Barkley | 2018

At 233 pounds, we all knew Saquon Barkley could be a special player, but his test results surprised even his biggest supporters. Barkley produced a 4.40 40-yard dash, 1.54 10-yard split, 29 bench-press reps, and a 41-inch vertical jump.

KEEP READING: What Is the Average Bench Press at the NFL Combine?

Those figures, according to NFL Research, made him faster than Devin Hester (4.43 40), quicker than DeSean Jackson (1.55 10-yard split), stronger than Joe Thomas (28 reps on the bench), and meant that he jumped higher than Julio Jones (38.5-inch vertical). So if you’re a Giants fan and need a reminder of what Barkley can do, here’s some positivity.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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